It’s a jungle out there. There are times when the thin blue line is the only thing that stands between polite society and total anarchy. Nowhere is that more true than on prime time American television. Since TV became the window on pop culture in its golden age, the “cop show” genre has been an essential staple of programmers and producers who need action, style and an element of danger to attract and hold an audience.
In fact, the cop show is probably the only programming niche that has not changed that much since the advent of commercial television in the late 1940’s. The template stays the same, but the modalities of crime fighting evolve to reflect the era portrayed. The mobility hardware that our favorite (fictional) crime fighters use has often been a showcase for the manufacturers to inspire the desire to drive one home. Let’s take a lighthearted look at what “the law” drove into our living rooms over the last half century.
All of the “Big 3” freely provided shiny new cars to be used as props for the fictional men (and sometimes women) that patrolled the equally fictional streets of our imagination. My research shows that the most active providers of lawman transport was Ford, followed by Chrysler and to a much lesser degree, GM. The reason for this is not clear cut, but logic would suggest that for most of the time covered herein, GM had a (pun intended) chokehold on the market and saw very little need to go to the trouble and expense of product placement when their products were already market leaders.
For Ford and ChryCo , the calculus was very different. Direct product placement could achieve what paid advertising could not: The association of workaday cars with glamor, style and moral virtue. It was frequently cheaper to provide half a dozen loaners to a studio than purchase network ad time on the same program in which the cars appeared. And there were times when the cars themselves seemed to be the stars of the show. No episode of Starsky and Hutch would be complete without their tomato red Torino wallowing and sliding through a chase scene on a sound stage back lot somewhere. It frequently got as much on-camera time as many of the guest stars.
For the most part, cops on TV drove cars that you could buy new, but there were exceptions. When the period piece Life On Mars appeared on the BBC In 2006, most of the prop cars were lovingly restored early 70’s British saloons that had long since fallen off the road due to… well, being British. But for other shows, only the latest model co-star car would do. For instance, you could always tell when a new season of The FBI was airing by watching for the Mustang model changeover in the closing credits. Even at my young age, I paid attention to stuff like that.
What follows is a brief look at what they were driving in the square, sometimes color, sometimes monochrome world of make believe over the last half century. The TV universe is vast, so no short feature can cover every car and every show. But if I’ve given short shrift to one of your favorites , please set me straight in the comments below.
Let’s book ’em.
The Andy Griffith Show- 1960 – Ford Fairlane / Ford Galaxie 500. Okay, this is not really a “cop” show as we now understand the term. It was more of a situation comedy that had some cops in it. TAGS (as it is known here in the south) always had the latest full size Fords as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s squad car. But these “cop cars” are among the most replicated prop cars ever.
TAGS conventions frequently have a whole row of replica Mayberry sheriff’s cruisers lined up for judging. [PN: or sitting at the curb in Eugene, like ’64]. The product placement seems to have been deliberate; episode credits include autos furnished by the Ford Motor Company.
The FBI– Sunday nights were special for the little Nelsons in the mid 60’s. We got to stay up on Sunday and watch The FBI (at 8, on ABC) . We had an early bus to catch so this was an indulgence that we cherished. No sly product placements here- Ford sponsored the show. You can spot every model in the FoMoCo lineup if you watch the program closely enough. Efrem Zimblast Jr. was the G-man hero of the show and he drove a Mustang. Black and white squad cars were always Galaxie 500’s or later LTD’s. The FBI was a big winner and ran for 10 seasons (an eternity in TV) and always hung around the top 10.
The Ford commercials can be seen in You Tube videos to this day and are fascinating to watch. The shows close and credits amount to an unpaid commercial as the star drives around in a ’67 Mustang convertible like the one above for what seems like an hour.
Adam 12– The producers of Adam 12 must have liked using big thirsty cars for Martin Milner and Kent McCord to clean up the streets of Los Angeles in the late 60’s / early 70’s. Patrol duty was handled by a 1968 Belevedere 383 for the first three seasons.
The final half of the show’s run saw officers Malloy and Reed making the collar in their ’73 AMC Matador with a 401. The show was a Jack Webb production ( Dragnet) and had a very successful run on NBC from 1968 to 1975. This is the only show that I can find that used AMC cars as the featured product.
Hawaii Five -O– The Five- O unit in Honolulu put their trust in Fords , for the most part, but it was Steve Mc Garret’s 1974 Mercury Marquis that was the car that stole the show. Jack Lord played the head of Five -O for 13 seasons from 1968 to 1980 while the lower ranked characters had to make due with motor pool Galaxie 500’s and the occasional Custom 500 (in the early years). The original show’s Marquis actually has a fairly large role in the remake/recasting of the show last fall. CBS has made it known that the car was the actual vehicle that Lord drove through the final years of the original. Needless to say, it still looks great today.
MCGarret’s first ride was a ’68 Mercury Parklane:
I’ll bet that this show sold a lot of Parklanes.It was a solid hit for CBS during its first run. Reruns can be seen to this day.
Kojak-Anybody that ever found themselves stuck in a Holiday Inn with cable tv on a business trip knows that Theo Kojak drove a Buick Century with a massive 455 as he battled crime in the Big Apple. Usually when on that business trip you had to suffer through countless re runs until you couldn’t bear to ever look at a Tootsie Pop or four door Buick again. Anyway , one of the nice things about location filming in New York was the clean shots of Checker Cabs that used to absolutely own the streets there.The show had a respectable 125 episode run on CBS from 1973 to 1978.
The Streets Of San Francisco– The 1972 Galaxie 500 actually made it into the opening credits of this one. Karl Malden and Michael Douglas played Lieutenant Mike Stone and Inspector Steve Keller, respectively, in this ABC series that ran from 1972 -1977. In 121 hour long episodes , they cruised the streets solving assorted murders and mayhem. The show was shot on location in ‘Frisco. This series was a solid hit and stayed near the top 10 for most of its run. The credits include FoMoCo as auto providers.
Starsky & Hutch– Clumsy product placement as an art form. The stars of this buddy cop show were Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, but the “undercover” car that they drove was a ’75 Gran Torino painted bright red with a giant vector stripe down the side. Blended right in. Ford had a formal studio loan/lease program by this time and other characters were frequently seen in motor pool/cop salary stripper sedans with the blue oval.
Lots of S&H replica cars were made and displayed at every car show in the country for what seemed like an eternity after the show went off the air. The paint scheme was really easy for any paint and body man to duplicate and you saw a lot of copycats. For a show with all of the depth of a Paris Hilton interview, this thing surprisingly ran for 93 episodes from 1975 to 1979 on ABC.
Hill Street Blues– When HSB debuted in 1981 on NBC (on Thursday nights), audiences didn’t know what to make of it. Characters talked over one another , cops drank on the job and sometimes the bad guy got away with it. Low ratings almost killed the show, but NBC hung in there and Hill Street is now on most short lists for best cop shows, ever. The opening sequence shows a squadron of 1976 Dodge Monaco’s slipping and sliding around Chicago, where some outside shots were filmed, but the show never revealed its true location in 146 hour long episodes. There was no overt product placement in this one, though. The main character (Daniel J. Travanti) drove the latest Olds 88 as his captain’s perk.
The patrol cars are all B body Mopars from the mid 70’s. Cars play a huge role in Hill Street’s leitmotif. Most outdoors shots take place inside a car, with interaction between characters as they drive the streets on “The Hill” .There must have been a car buff on the writing staff: One episode centers around the theft of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus’s 1959 Buick and his travails in getting it back. Despite being a masterwork of TV, the series oddly is seen only in Britain these days. Hour long serial dramas have fallen out of favor on this side of the pond and it’s unlikely that we will see HSB’s type again.
Miami Vice– MV was the series that showed us that cops have better pay and benefits than they are letting on. Detective Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) kept Metro Dade County and greater Miami safe while tooling around in a Ferrari, of all things, during this shows five seasons on NBC. His partner (Ricardo Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas) , made do with a ’64 Cadillac Coupe DeVille convertible. In fact, this series was a car spotters dream. Every major character had a car befitting the good life in South Florida and the dope dealers were ashamed to be seen in anything other than an up to the minute gray market Mercedes.
The show also is remembered for some crazy product placement: When it was discovered that the Ferrari that Johnson used was a replica (on a Corvette chassis) , Enzo Ferrari (majordomo of the car company with his name on the hood) sued to get the kit taken off the market. He won and Vice got a couple of free, new Testarossas to um, run radar on I-95.The replica was blown to heck in the first episode of season three. But the show itself was on life support by then . The originators had moved on, the scripts were all the same and the “hip” look and chic feel of the show had grown stale. By the end of its run , MV had fallen out of the top 20 and the younger audience that had been weaned on MTV had found a new fad to follow.
Life on Mars– Television programmers are often taken to task for copycat, formulaic TV. This series which ran on BBC One in 2006-2007 was anything but. Combining elements of fantasy, science fiction and police drama, LOM portrayed the aftermath of an accident involving the title character (Sam Tyler, played by John Simm) that transported him back to the U.K. circa 1973. Cars are a huge part of the storyline in this one, starting with the first episode and running as a continuing thread through the entire series story arc. How the producers got all of those old Limey cars to run long enough to film I’ll never know, but its a charming time capsule for old car watchers. Tyler drives a Ford Cortina as his personal car in the series and its a pleasure to spot obscure British makes roaming the streets in many scenes.
Life on Mars had a second life in the U.S. In 2008/09. More like a half life. If you blinked, you missed it. The story and even the scripts were almost identical to the original, though set in New York City. Jason O’Mara took the lead role in the U.S. remake, and he drove a 1971 Chevy Chevelle SS as his personal car. NYPD squad cars are mostly green and black Mopars (changing to blue and white later in the series) and of course, lots and lots of late 60’s cabs and trucks. A car spotters delight. The series lasted 17 episodes before ABC pulled the plug.
Great review of Best. Cop. Cars. Ever. Like Jeff, I was an “FBI” fan, and I still wonder why 20th Century Fox has NOT released seasons 3-7 of “Hill Street.”
Good shot of the ’61 Plymouth, by the way–Toody and Mulhoon of “Car 54, Where Are You?” would have approved!
Over here in the the UK, one of the top BBC shows of the 1960s was Z Cars, which was a “gritty” look at policing in a new town not a million miles from Liverpool.
One of the regular actors was Colin Welland, who went on to bellow “the British are coming” when Chariots of Fire won its Oscar, but the real stars were the Mk3 Ford Zephyrs, as you can see from this merchandise:
Mach 3 Maori Mustang these cars had huge street cred in NZ and Z cars along with Ernie Spagues race car played a big part
Hill Street Blues was shown on American Life Network until about a year ago. And not even a mention of the Caprices on NYPD Blue??
Woo-Hoo, there’s that early Matador connection again! Somehow the black & white helps with the frumpy roofline seen in the previous CC. Stench of death indeed, these must really go with a 401.
AMC also provided vehicles for the Dukes of Hazzard, which again is sort of a cop show. They donated Daisy’s Jeep for instance, and a whole whack of later (& uglier) Matador cop cars. As usual I can’t imagine what AMC was thinking to show folks every week how good their sedans were at crashing into each other, failing at jumping over creeks, etc. etc.
Did anyone ask AMC or did the studio get a deal on cheap cars
The Dukes of Hazzard premiered in 1979, after the Matador was out of production. They were using any old stuff – nothing was new or sponsored.
I remember the General Lee being chased by a Matador during the closing credits, but can’t ever recall seeing one on an actual episode. I never saw Roscoe, Enos, or Cleatus drive anything but late 70s Dodge Monacos.
Seconded. No Matadors were actually used in the show. Possibly the pilot.
According to IMCDB website a 74 Matador cop car was used in episode 1.10 it’s not too clear it if was just the one episode or there were others. Two thoughts spring to mind on this:
1) Very limited use, agreed the vast majority were mopars
2) I can’t believe somebody bothers to keep track of every vehicle ever used in every TV and Movie production.
There was some eps in season 1-3 with the AMC’s, but later on would be square lighted 77-78 Dodge/Plymouth B bodies.
Some others. In Dragnet (1967-69), Sgt. Friday and Officer Gannon drove the same gold 67 Ford Fairlane sedan. I remember an episode where we saw Sgt. Friday’s personal car – a baby blue 64 Fairlane.
Not strictly a cop show, Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, drove up to the front of Control headquarters in a Sunbeam Tiger.
Max also drove a VW Ghia is some series
Maxwell Smart only drived the VW Karmann-Ghia in the opening credits of season 3 and 4. For season 5 when Get Smart moved from NBC to CBS, he used an Opel GT.
In the series “Ironside” with Raymond Burr (well known for his role of Perry Mason) as Inspector Ironside, they used a 1940 Ford Paddy wagon in the first seasons who get a sad fate… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsIWx2BPRJU
More of a Private investigator, “Mannix” used a customized Olds Toronado roadster in season 1 before he use a Dodge Dart GTS for seasons 2 and 3 and a Barracuda for seasons 4 and 5 http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_206-Oldsmobile-Toronado-1966.html
Look carefully and you’ll see a 390 emblem on that Fairlane. Probably part of jack Webb’s desire for authenticity, I think. Not many cops drove around with sixes.
Detective cars often had sixes or smaller V-8s, because, unlike most TV shows, they weren’t supposed to be used in pursuit. The guy who ran LASD’s testing for many years did a classification of police car types and called these “taxis” because they were mainly used to ferry people around.
I just saw one of those this afternoon at a trader joes’…. almost died. Wish I had the presence of mind to takre a snap w/ my phone. It was red, barely held together… and the interior was a nightmare… but man do I love those cars.
The Sunbeam Tiger also features in the original ‘Get Carter’ as the gangster’s moll’s personal auto. Later in the film the moll and the Tiger get bumped off into the River Tyne tragic on both counts.
I used to love watching Brod Crawford pitching around his ’54 Oldsmobile on “Highway Patrol”. And while it wasn’t a cop show per se, I remember Craig Stevens as “Peter Gunn” always drove a new Plymouth Fury convertible. Back in the long lost days of my childhood, I thought those finny Furys were the coolest things imaginable.
Yes, the car is the image I remember from Highway Patrol. It started with the Olds, but I remember the Buicks. There were Dodges too, according to the incredibly fabulous IMCDb page for that show:
There must be over a hundred photos there, all of cars that appeared on-screen.
I watch Highway Patrol on ‘This TV’ so I can see the old cars. The sounds that go with the cars are the actual vehicles as well, rather than a foley sound track.
The show used several different cars, but only one, the ’55 Buick Century, was an actual authentic cop car.
This particular one was borrowed from CHP for the filming. The ’55 Century 2-door post was built especially for the CHP, with no civilian counterpart being available. The only 2-door post was normally the Special, a “3-holer”, whereas the Century (larger engine) was a “4-holer”.
I suspect that cops in the 50’s drove Buicks and such because they had V8s (and straight eights) and Chevy only had sixes until ’55.
Love ’em all. Wouldn’t mind having a clean Diplomat with the cop equipment or (even more rare) an R-body with the 360V8 at cop spec.
And back to the UK, still FoMoCo, but fast forward to the 70s, and the noticeably more violent show The Sweeney. (Cockney rhyming slang: Sweeney Todd = Flying Squad.)
The big cop was Jack Regan, and Jack drove (or, more accurately, was driven) in a series of very smart Consuls/Granadas. The villains almost invariably drove Bedford vans or Mk II Jags, which of course got totalled at the end of the show.
Jack Regan was played by John Thaw, and in the 90s Thaw played Inspector Morse, driving sedately around Oxford in… a Mk II Jag.
What about Inspector Lynley’s Bristol? THAT is a sweet ride too!
Thanks for putting in a mention of the Sweeney. His sidekick George Carter (played by Dennis Waterman) often a drove Ford Escort, and Dennis Waterman graduated to a Triumph Stag in New Tricks.
Wareman as Terry in Minder drove a base Capri
I love inspector Morse! His Jag was the 2.4 liter version, I think, not the 3.8. Anyway, perfect car for the character, IMHO! As for other British police show I got to watch in this forgotten corner of the world is Midsommer Murder, where the lead character drove Rover 800 (initially), later switched to a Mondeo. then a Jag Type-S, diesel (you could hear the rattle). The cop car itself generally were either Focus or Mondeos. Occasionally Rover 400 too.
Don’t forget “CI5 the Professionals” , the first seasons where Doyle and Bodie used various British Leyland models: Triumph, Rover before they switched to Fords in the next season
Not really a cop show, but cop-related: Quincy, M.E.
Jack Klugman drove around in a white Matador station wagon, while solving crimes that are technically outside of his scope of responsibility.
Also, what about the Mod Squad? A 1971(?) or 72(?) Satellite (4 door no less!) with all kinds of trick equipment and a set of mag wheels? Beats Starsky and Hutch by several years. No chicks in the car either. Bummer.
35 years later, I still want a S&H Torino…
EDIT: The BBC Life on Mars car, I know it’s a European Granada, but for a moment there it looked like my Dad’s 1968 Mercury Montego!
That wasn’t the Mod Squad, it was a short lived series named “Chase”.
The Mod Squad started with a 40s Mercury Woody, then switched to a Dodge Challenger convertible.
@Roger: Ooops! Got my 70’s TV shows out of order. Thanks for the correction.
What, no mention of the Mod Squad Woody Station wagon?
And on the topic of Gran Torinos I would love the one featured in Clint Easton’s last movie by the same name.
It may not be a “cop show” under the strictest definition, but I remember the use of Ford products in the original Charlie’s Angels. The Angels drove a variety of Ford Pintos and Mustang IIs, and, if I recall correctly, in later seasons a 1977-79 Thunderbird was driven by one of the stars.
What’s interesting about the new Hawaii 5-0 is that while the original Marquis was featured prominently in the opening episode, the rest of the series has been a rolling advertisement for Chevrolet products, particularly the Camaro driven by Alex O’Loughlin. Some episodes I can’t figure out which the camera loves best – Alex O’Loughlin’s abs, Grace Park’s butt or the Camaro’s bowtie.
What was interesting about the old 5-0 was that Steve McGarrett’s black 68 Mercury stayed in use for several seasons, and was not replaced until, what, 1975?
1974, when he got the new Marquis. However in the pilot episode instead of driving the Parklane sedan, McGarrett used a 2-door Marquis http://www.carlustblog.com/2011/02/the-cars-of-five-o.html
I believe the T-Bird was Bosley’s later car. I like that the one show featuring a non Ford product was the one where Kelly posing as a heiress to a San Diego hotel was gifted W a Firebird. The mere presence of the Pontiac was clue enough that it was going to have been “tinkered” W and crash B4 the end of the show.
The story of the Firebird reminds me of the show CHIPS. The show took place in southern California, where there are tons of interesting, brand-new cars. But, according to CHIPS, only old clunkers were ever involved in actual crashes. Every reasonably new vehicle managed to emerge unscathed from that week’s vehicular mayhem.
Even today, you could guess which car’s going to crash if it was a cheaper car.Like the supposedly wealthy drug dealer suddenly switches an older Mercedes when previously he was seen in a newer car. That old merc’s going to crash, or blow up.
Continuity on merican films is poor
Yeah and all trhose pileups took place at 25 mph.
I like the 5-0 reboot, but I have a problem with Grace Parks’ Chevy Cruze chasing down and overtaking, well, anything.
The other irony of the Hawaii 5-O reboot is that the Camaro, which is in reality a v-6, is supposed to be Dano’s car, yet in the pilot, Dano drove a Mustang.
Don’t forget Don Johnson’s later cop drama, Nash Bridges, where he drove a yellow 71 Cuda convertible.
BOC, wasn’t that show made just so DJ could drive around in a Cuda convertible on someone elses dime? Sheer genius..
actually, i think the show was made so that don could date the actress who played his daughter, jodi lyn o’keefe.
That sounds like the best job in the world! 🙂
The reason for this is not clear cut, but logic would suggest that for most of the time covered herein, GM had a (pun intended) chokehold on the market and saw very little need to go to the trouble and expense of product placement when their products were already market leaders.
I know somebody that used to be a police mechanic (CHP I think) and they ran mostly big block Mopars “back in the day”. As Donald Westlake wrote in the novel Dancing Aztecs, “Cops will drive Furies til they make a car named ‘Kill’.” 🙂
Curtis Redgap would agree!
Harvey Kietel as a disgruntled police chief in early 70s New York.. Nuff said! I think it lasted as long as the Brit version…
(Having an odd day, how did I not see the Life on mars part??)
I’m shocked that Colombos old Peugeot rag-top doesn’t feature.
Hey, don’t forget Superman! The police all drove Nashes. Here’s a frame from a neat site, which also shows us Lois and Jimmy’s Nash Ramblers, and Clark Kent’s Nash-Healey.
Can’t forget the Coronoroc from Paul’s short-lived “Oregon I-5 Oh!” series.
I assume the second photo down was from the early ’60’s show “car 54 where are you”. We only had b&w tv then but as I remember NY city police cars back in those days where dark green.
“as I remember NY city police cars back in those days where dark green.”
Therein lies a tale of its own. Your memory is correct. In fact,in Life on Mars ,the NYPD patrol cars are green and white until late in the series,when they changed over as in real life to blue and white livery.
In Car 54, lots of location shots were in NYC. In order to avoid confusion and possible misuse, the Car 54 cars were painted purple and white (on monochrome tv’s,they showed up black and white). The audience was none the wiser.
“Car 54” was painted red to avoid confusion with a real police car (they filmed in NYC) and because the red photographs the same as green in b/w.
I think they painted the TV cars red because they showed up better on the B&W film.
In the interest of realism, they used the same kinds of cars on Adam-12 that the LAPD bought. Since the LAPD bought Matadors in ’72-’73, that’s what Reed & Malloy drove. I believe they switched back to Satellites for the final season.
“Dragnet!” used Matadors because Jack Webb (who produced Dragnet as well as playing Sergeant Joe Friday) was a stickler for details. At the time, AMC had the LAPD’s fleet contract, so “Dragnet!” used Matadors.
Webb actually acquired the cars through the LAPD fleet contract in the interest of complete authenticity. Adam-12 used a number of cars – a ’67 Belvedere (in the first, pilot episode only), ’68 Belvedere, ’69 Belvedere, ’71 Satellite and ’72 Matador.
The show featured whatever the LAPD were driving that particular year-
with the exception of the 3rd season, when they should have been driving a 1970 Montego but carried over the 1969 Satellite instead.
The stupidest cop car on TV? CSI Miami’s hummer. Why would Miami PD need a hummer? since it spend its time on the road anyway. Even more ridiculous given the number of exotics in Miami, often driven by bad guys, i.e. drug dealers and such. A convenience-store robber probably drive a Chevette, that’s about the only thing that the Hummer can possibly catch. How is it supposed to chase Ferrari and such? Don’t that thing have 85mph speed limiter or something?
Sad that the current Hawaiian Five-O defected to Ford’s rival Chevy. What, Ford didn’t make anything worthy for Five-O anymore? Though I guess they could say, well, they killed the Mercury, so it’s not our fault!
Love that red 57 Fury on the main article. That’s one mean looking cop car! Truly ought to bring fear to anyone seeing its frowning face in the rearview mirror. Having just watched “Christine” probably wouldn’t help either.
The Fury is a ’61.
British cop show the Sweeney was good for Jags the cops drove Granedas and Consuls while the crimms used old 3.8 Jaguars they must have wrecked hundreds.
Okay, another one that’s not strictly a cop show, but I’m shocked nobody has mentioned James Garner cruising around in a Firebird in The Rockford Files.
My wife took me to task for that very thing when I was writing this. (She had a thing for James Garner). But strictly speaking, Rockford was a P.I. show. Which gives me a great idea…
Red 57 T-Bird, parked in the living room.
Red Ferrari 308GTS, with the roof always off so the star could fit.
Minor nitpick, but the Ford (Custom, Custom 500, Galaxie, Galaxie 500? Can’t really tell from the pic) shown above as used in The Streets of San Francisco is actually a 1971 model, not a 1972. We had a 1971 LTD in the family for 30 years, and in grade school I remember watching a film of the factory showing them making the stripper models (no center taillight in ’71, dog-dish hubcaps, framed door glass, etc) and it was the first time that I had seen those since they were so rare out in the real world. Ours was a LTD Brougham 4-door hardtop (vinyl-covered, of course) that was trimmed out much like a Mercury, but still with the crank windows because my dad didn’t want to become stuck inside the car if we ever went into the water. We had the clear vinyl bumpy “fingerhut” seat covers too!
Not a cop movie per se, but my favorite use of the 1971 LTD was Burt Reynolds driving one in White Lightning, it was a coupe with a 4-on-the-floor shifter (probably behind a 429). The Fords of this era were excellent moonshine-running cars as they had a super-deep trunk thanks to the forward placement of the fuel tank in front of the rear axle, so you could really pack a lot of cases back there. I believe that they also used Fords for shine-runners in The Dukes of Hazzard.
I also seem to recall 1971 Fords used as cop cars in the first Dirty Harry movie.
The Streets of SF stars got a new Ford every year the season ran, starting with the ’71 Galaxie, then ’72- ’74 versions, then LTDs when the Galaxie was dropped. As for White Lightning, that car was a Galaxie, not an LTD. 2 different ones were used, and both were obviously automatics.
If you freeze frame, you can see that a ’71 or ’72 Mustang was used for the shifting sequences.
Burt’s car in “WL” was a base strippo no chrome Custom model. No trim.
Inspector Gadget’s rig was certainly unique.
above converted into this
One thing that sticks is the car chases in US cop shows and the crap handling of American cars,lurching sideways with tyre smoke is not fast its slow but I guess it makes good TV
how is it possible that there isn’t a crown vic in the bunch?
Wrong site CV love is on TTAC
Don’t forget Hunter’s Monaco and Sledge Hammer’s St Regis!
The story I’ve always heard is that so many of them were destroyed during the filming of police chase sences in movies and TV because they were so freaking cheap. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_St._Regis
That simple fact makes me sad (cause I always love rare cars no matter if they were any good or not) but what made me MAD was seeing a car that was never sold as a cop car done up as a police cruiser. I’ve seen quite a few Grand Marquis impersonating Crown Vics on the small screen and it always chaffes me the wrong way.
Not a “cop” show, but I’m sure some here will remember “The New Adventures Of The Saint”, a short-lived late 70’s reprise of the original “The Saint”. TNAOTS starred Ian Ogilvy and only lasted for one or two seasons.
Instead of Roger Moore’s iconic Volvo, Ogilvy drove an early-production Jaguar XJS. Ogilvy’s Jaguar was unique because it was one of a very small handful of that model equipped from the factory with a manual transmission rather than the ubiquitous GM Turbo 400 automatic. The car is still in existence today a frequently makes the rounds on the show circuit.
Another memorable one: the 1974 film “The California Kid” starring the late Vic Morrow as a murderous vigilante sheriff using his pushbar equipped, souped up ’57 Plymouth Belvedere as an instrument of death and destruction against speeders.
This is getting rather silly isn’t it?
Did anyone else watch Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan on Saturday mornings? How about the Chan Van, which could turn into any vehicle with the push of a button…
That Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan cartoon had an awesome theme song and IMO this is the natural segue.
Surprised that no one mentioned it yet (even though it’s anything but a real cop show), but Police Squad always featured Frank Drebin’s trusty green Plymouth Satellite, both in the TV series and all 3 Naked Gun movies.
The Hill Street blues opening used an ancient police station on Maxwell Street in Chicago. It was still being used as a Chicago Police station when the show was on. It’s now used as the station for the University Of Illinois at Chicago police/security.
You missed one of my favorite, Canon, although I can’t remember if he was police or a private investigatir. As a fat kid, he gave me hope.
Wasnt he a PI and ride around in a barge
Cannon rode in Continental Marks, a Mark III the first season, then subsequent years of Mark IV until it was cancelled at end of the ’75-’76 season. Just as well, he wouldn’t have liked that gutless 400 in the Mark V.
Let’s not forget that great classic “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry” with Peter Fonda being
chased around by Vic Morrow in an AMC Matador (until it threw a rod). One of the few
times I can remember an AMC product in a movie.
@newflvr: AMC product in a movie? How about “The Man with the Golden Gun”?
James Bond flick from 1974.
I never imagined Indonesia as an export market for AMCs, but there they were… 🙂
The most memorable part of the movie was the spiral bridge jump done with a hopped up (in more ways than one) AMC Hornet.
Those were Dodge Polaras, not Matadors.
AMC cars in the movies and on TV? The Internet Movie Cars Database knows all, with an incredible number of stills. Anyone spending so much time compiling this material is surely a CC cousin:
In the final season of Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman”, AMC provided cars. Diana Prince had a 1978 Concorde. And one ‘villianess’ drove an ‘AMX’ trimed one.
What about Shatner’s late 80’s vehicle (no pun intended), TJ Hooker? Tons of Mopar iron roaming around LA, or San Fran, or whever the show supposedly took place.
Chief Robert Ironside started out with a converted Ford paddy wagon
. It was later replaced byl a modified Ford Club Wagon van. Glenn Ford patrolled “Cade’s County” in a Jeep CJ.. Amos Burke of “Burke’s Law” was driven in a Rolls.
It’s a Ford Anglia, from ITV UK’s awful retro-cop show, “Heartbeat”.
I haven’t seen the movie but have seen scenes from it, but in the movie remake of Dragnet in the late 80’s, Dan Akroyd played St Friday if I recall and he drove a Yugo…
Det. Hutchinson, ‘Hutch’ drove a ’73 Custom 500, with a big dent on roof when he jump on top of it chasing a crook. Pic is below the Torino in story. The running joke was Hutch didn’t care what he drove, while Dave Starsky was in love with his ‘striped tomato’.
Remade today, Starsky in a wild red Mustang, and Hutch in a beat up ’99 Crown Vic.
Back to “Dukes of Hazzard” and AMCs for a moment – There were a handful of episodes in the late 1st season (1979) using old AMC cop cars. You can see one during the end credits shot they used most of the series (General Lee & cop car circling the trees.)
The AMCs had manual steering gearboxes which were too slow-ratio for unpaved Hazzard County roads. The TV crew told their car supplier not to get any more AMCs after the first batch was quickly totaled.
The note about AMC supplying vehicles during the show’s end credits is referring to Daisy’s CJ-7 Jeep that showed up in mid-2nd season. The Jeep was a product-placement deal to replace Daisy’s yellow 1971-74 Plymouth Roadrunner and reduce the number of old vehicles they had to maintain on the set.
And leave us not forget our favorite Freelance Police and their 1960 DeSoto Adventurer! 😀
FYI, the black Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 of Sony Crockett is actually a replica on the chassis of Corvette C3. Ferrari were not pleased about it and that’s why they offer the white Testarossa in replacement.